Jay Triano grew up playing hockey and is now bringing his knowledge from the rink to the court as the Suns head coach.
Growing up in Ontario, Triano played hockey until seventh grade when a six-inch growth spurt hindered his ability on the ice.
“I tried to skate and got bumped off the puck and fell down all time,” Triano said. “You hit that growth spurt and it helps some people and hurt me as far as hockey went.”
Triano made the switch to basketball, but never fully let go of his old passion. As coach of the Suns, he has begun to incorporate hockey references into his teachings.
“Everyday I try to come up with something,” Triano said. “If we can learn one thing every day it can help build our basketball vocabulary and our basketball IQ.”
He started with one hockey metaphor last week and it quickly turned into more as he addressed the team. The main focus to start was around the “hockey assist.”
In hockey, the player who passes to the player who gets the assists, also gets an assist. Triano is hoping to draw double teams and then move the ball twice to the open man.
“We’ve always talked about two guys making two guys play you and then distributing the ball,” Triano said. “The guy who passed out of the double team had the toughest job because he had to get it through two defenders.”
The NBA doesn’t usually track that stat, but Triano and the Suns are looking to promote this type of play.
“We are trying to reward that,” Triano said. “We are going to make it more of an award. We’ll put the stick in the locker. We are just going to create unselfish play.”
Triano also talked to his players about the unity of a hockey locker room and how winning reflects the whole team’s effort, not individuals.
“In hockey, you don’t win a ring,” Triano said. “A ring is an individual thing. You win the cup, which is a team thing. A lot of sports, people fight for a ring and in hockey, you fight for that.”
Lastly, Triano spoke about the different traditions and customs that are found in hockey.
“I talked about being in locker rooms and the logo on the floor is sacred in hockey,” Triano said. “If I wanted to walk across the locker room, I have to walk around the logo on the floor. We don’t step on the logo on the floor.”
Although the Suns won’t be making a change to the locker room this season, it is something that Triano would potentially like going forward.
“That’s something that needs to start at the beginning of the year, but I do like that kind of stuff,” Triano said.
Triano saw many of the same analogies in both sports and felt it was something he could teach to the team as the Suns look to close out their final ten games of the season.